Moving to Estonia: what do you need to know?

Moving to a new country can be an exciting but also, quite understandably, a daunting challenge. This article focuses on the information that might be helpful for foreign nationals who are moving to Estonia and make their relocation and adaptation smoother.

Why choose Estonia?

Despite its sparse population (approximately 1.3 million), Estonia enjoys global recognition as an active member of the European Union and a number of international organisations. Why else is Estonia an attractive location for living and working?  Because we have all of the things below.

Clean environment

Estonians take great pride in their well-preserved environment, vast woods, and beautiful nature. The country provides plenty of opportunities for spending time and relaxing outdoors because a forest or body of water is never farther than a 30-minute drive away in Estonia. according to the data of the World Health organisation (WHO), Estonia boasts the highest air quality in the world.


Crime rate in Estonia is low, and people are calm and mostly rather reserved. Cyber security has become an important topic lately, and Estonians like bringing it up, especially at the international level. The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is situated in Tallinn.


Lifestyle advantages

Such monthly expenses as accommodation rental costs, for example, are reasonable in Estonia. in addition,


Plenty of people who speak English

A substantial number of people in Estonia speak English, so communication with the authorities and in daily life is easier for English speakers.

Rich cultural scene

Country-wide music and film festivals, galleries, concerts, fairs, and plenty of other fascinating events for any taste. Were this not enough, such major Nordic hubs as Stockholm and Helsinki are just a short ferry trip away!

Long-term stay in Estonia

It is worth knowing that EU citizens may travel and live in Estonia for up to three months without registration.

After the three months have passed, you need to

  • register your permanent address in Estonia (not a hotel or other temporary accommodation facility) in the population register;
  • apply for the Estonian ID card, which will open a number of convenient online services. Namely, most everyday operations in Estonia can be completed digitally. These include online banking, electronic school solutions and digital prescriptions: our public services function smoothly and efficiently.

When you have spent five years living in Estonia permanently, you can register the permanent right of residence.

Foreign nationals from outside the EU have two options for a long-term stay in Estonia:

  • applying for a long-stay visa known as D visa, which is issued for up to 360 days;
  • applying for a temporary residence permit: such a permit is issued for a period longer than 360 days.

You can apply for these documents in an Estonian foreign mission before you move to Estonia. another option is submitting your application in person at the Police and Border Guard Board branch (you need to book an appointment before doing so).

Working in Estonia

Many foreign nationals move to Estonia to find employment or start a business here. In such case, you will certainly be asking yourself what you need to know so that your employment in Estonia is a success.

Very useful information on this topic is provided by the part of the settleinestonia programme known as the work and entrepreneurship module. This is a training course which provides an overview of working or starting business in Estonia as well as related topics and answers to the participants’ questions.

In addition, the module gives valuable information about the following:

  • nature of the Estonian workplace culture;
  • advice on how to reach out to employers and entrepreneurs;
  • Estonian fiscal system;
  • starting a business;
  • unemployment insurance and health insurance;
  • Estonian pension system.

The course provides an overview of how to join specialist or entrepreneur associations in Estonia and about other services related to employment and business that are specifically meant for foreign nationals who have relocated to Estonia.

The work and entrepreneurship module course lasts for one day, during which experts will be giving information about their respective fields, but there are also recommendations on how to find the needed information yourself. Location of the course: Tallinn, Tartu or Narva. The participants can choose the module in English or Russian.

How to adapt in Estonia?

Apart from work, your relocation plans should include becoming informed about other topics and acts important for everyday life. For example, the traditions and values typical of Estonians as well as citizen rights and obligations.

This is where we recommend taking the basic module course, which will contribute to your adaptation in general and cover such important topics as getting help in case of an emergency, using e-services, communication culture, leisure opportunities, administrative agencies, the healthcare system and much more.

The basic module course will give foreign nationals answers to any questions about living in Estonia they might have. Make sure you learn more!

Photo: Rasmus Jurkatam, Brand Estonia